Wacom Intuos 5 Touch Medium TABLET (now called the Intuos Pro)
To Tablet Or Not To Tablet; Long Term Review
I’ve been a user of Wacom tablets for many years now. I have had an Intuos 2 and Intuos 3. With the introduction of a “touch” surface, I was intrigues so borrowed the new Intuos 5 Touch Medium with wireless adapter for a long term review from Wacom.
The review didn’t start off too well though. The early software drivers on the Mac weren’t very stable and regardless of wether I was in tethered mode (USB) or wireless (using a wireless USB adapter), the tablet would at some stage during the working day disappear and eventually I just gave up and went back to using the Apple Trackpad on my Mac Pro and Intuos 3, waiting for updates to the software.
During a large edit on a big project (around a year ago), I developed a serious wrist pain and decided it was time to get the Wacom Intuos 5 out again. My only issue with using my Intuos 3 all the time is that I’m now so used to the gesture control in the Mac OS that having only a pen or the Wacom mouse is often counter productive. I decided to have a look at the Intuos 5 again and thankfully there was updated software. I updated and switched off the Apple Trackpad and went to the Wacom. Glad to report that the drivers are now solid and there are no more problems.
The huge positive thing about the Intuos 5 is the fact that it is also a touch pad with gesture control too; the name is kind of a clue here. Some learning is needed to master a few new movements but the system works well; so well that I’ve stuck with it solidly since, without issue. My beloved Apple Trackpad has been tucked away in a cupboard since. There’s also fully customisable control in the way of “ExpressKeys” and added control with the Touch Ring.
Having used it with Aperture, Lightroom, Capture One, Photoshop as well as FCP X on some major projects, several of which have gone on to win awards, the combination of pen and touch not only works extremely well, but is also much kinder physically and doesn’t cause the fatigue or pain that can be associated with heavy mouse or trackpad use. For my general computing, I just use the tablet as a touch device.
One huge advantage with the pen is also the ability to be much more accurate. Using brushes or moving sliders incrementally can be done with pinpoint accuracy. On top of this, the free flowing pen is suited towards artistic expression, so things like burning in or dodging is a breeze and more akin to the expressiveness one would show in a traditional darkroom. Naturally for the artist, there is no better tool, so if you draw, paint or do graphical design and for some reason haven’t tried a Wacom, just do – you won’t regret it. One thing I can pretty much guarantee is that within weeks of use of a Wacom, you will wonder how you managed without it.
The only gripe I have is the touch surface doesn’t cover the entire tablet and is within a designated area, which is incidentally, clearly marked and roughly around 85% of the surface area. I occasionally find myself just outside the bottom of the area and it’s frustrating as it can lead to errors when using the tablet as a trackpad. One does get used to it, and there are so many positives, that for me, it’s not a deal breaker. I do hope though that Wacom can make the next model touch capable over the entire surface.
Some thoughts on which size; as I use dual monitors at my office, I have always opted for the A4 size in the past, now called the Medium. The larger surface area allows for great control and accuracy when working on small areas (like retouching dust). I think anyone who works on a single screen or works just on a laptop will probably find the Small size to be more than capable. As always though, the best thing is to find your nearest stockist and go and have a try to see what suits you best. Also, for those who have never tried a tablet before, at first it will feel slightly alien the first day; trust me, just persevere as it will revolutionise the way you interact with your computer.
Faster working, pain free use, accurate and versatile with both pen and touch. With the maturing of the software, this is a must have for anyone who spends a lot of time photo, video or audio editing. I can’t recommend this highly enough; your work will improve and your wrist will thank you. Having just sold my Intuos 3 tablet, pen and mouse, I shall be purchasing my own Intuos 5 Touch Medium soon!
NB – Since beginning this long term review, the model naming has changed and the Intuos 5 range is now called the Intuos Pro. As far as differences between the unit, they are practically identical with some minor cosmetic differences and a slightly different surface coating. Also, the Pro now comes with the wireless kit as standard (although you can also use a USB connection instead).
On a related issue, as I’m often on the road with my MacBook Pro or 11” MacBook Air, either on assignment, teaching workshops or giving presentations, I decided to get a smaller tablet for mobile use. I opted for the Intuos Pen and Touch in the small size, which is working out well too. Not up to the feel of the Intuos 5, which is a professional grade piece of equipment, but it does work well on the road. One thing’s for sure though; once funds allow, I’ll almost definitely be upgrading that to the small size Intuos Pro Touch.
To see the Wacom in action, you can jump to 05:28 where you can see it being used with FCP X to edit our film “1 Sixpence 1 Play“: